Rumours of a so-called Apple car being in the works have been swirling in the media since 2014, but the tech company has avoided sharing official details on the project over the years. Apple’s most recent acknowledgment that it was interested in pursuing electric and autonomous vehicle technology came last spring when company CEO Tim Cook told The New York Times that “there’s lots of things you can do with autonomy,” and that “we’ll see what Apple does” in this space going forward.
There has been renewed interest in the rumoured Apple car this week after Bloomberg reported the tech giant could be interested in acquiring struggling EV startup Canoo, which recently warned investors that it would likely run out of cash in the next year without additional investment. Apple could be interested in buying Canoo at a discount to scoop up its engineering talent, Bloomberg’s report indicates, a rumour bolstered by the fact that Canoo’s former chief executive officer, Ulrich Kranz, now works on the alleged Apple car project.
With interest once again rising in a potential Apple car, it seems appropriate to delve a bit deeper into the latest rumours. This article will go over all the most recent information about the Apple car and what tech fans and automotive enthusiasts can come to expect from the Silicon Valley-based company’s foray into the personal transportation space.
What will the Apple Car look like?
Bloomberg’s report about the potential Canoo partnership seems to indicate the Apple Car will have a minivan-like shape with a roomy interior designed to be comfortable and spacious above all. Apple sources it spoke to say the Canoo Lifestyle Vehicle concept (pictured) appears very similar to what their own designers have developed. Such a vehicle would likely use a dedicated electric vehicle platform with the battery mounted in the floor, just like the Canoo.
How about the interior?
Bloomberg’s article indicates the Apple Car would feature full self-driving capability and would not have a steering wheel or pedals. We imagine such a vehicle would also maximize passenger space inside with a flat floor and a wraparound bench seat, or a set of two benches facing each other like the upcoming Cruise Origin autonomous taxi developed by General Motors (pictured below).
The report also indicates Apple realizes that full self-driving could be a lofty goal to achieve within a realistic timeframe, so it may be forced to settle for a more traditional interior design and partial automation like GM Super Cruise or Tesla Autopilot. A vehicle like this would of course still benefit from Apple-developed interior technology, as well, such as display screens, in-vehicle apps, and smartphone integration for the infotainment system.
A recent patent application filed by Apple Inc. on May 3, 2022 may give us an idea of what kind of tech Apple has in mind for its automotive products. This patent describes a vehicle with no windows, with passengers instead wearing VR headsets that could provide them with a video feed sent from cameras mounted on the vehicle’s exterior. The VR headset could also allow the user to watch movies and read books while on the move with image stabilization tech.
Will it be electric?
While there’s virtually zero official information out there about the Apple car, it’s clear that a technology company like Apple would not be interested in developing an internal combustion engine vehicle. The Apple car, if it ever truly comes to fruition (get it?), will certainly be battery-electric and will likely also have partial or full automated driving capability. We expect a large, energy-dense electric battery, one or two electric motors and skateboard chassis with a flat floor, as well.
Canoo skateboard chassis
Who will it be for?
It’s not clear if the Apple car will be a vehicle marketed to consumers as a personal method of transportation or if it will be a fully autonomous ride-sharing vehicle for fleets, like the Cruise Origin we mentioned earlier. The vast majority of fully autonomous vehicles are being marketed as ride-sharing vehicles, though, and this seems to be where this technology would make the most sense in the real world.
When is it coming out?
The Bloomberg article we referenced earlier indicates Apple wants to release a product in the automotive space before the end of the decade, however, this seems overly ambitious if the company indeed wants the vehicle to be fully driverless. There’s also the possibility the Applecar never materializes, as Tim Cook explained to The New York Times last year.
“We investigate so many things internally,” Cook said when asked about the potential for Apple to one day release a car. “Many of them never see the light of day. I’m not saying that (an Apple car) will not.”